A salt spreader is an invaluable tool during the winter time. As ice builds up on your freshly
plowed driveway, you will need to have some way to dissolve that ice. Salt works against the ice to melt it away so you are not slipping and sliding around your driveway. Many people use large salt spreaders, fashioned as a tailgate spreader on their pickup for larger applications such as parking lots. However, the ordinary homeowner will have a push behind or tow behind salt spreader.
Keeping them clean and functioning will make your winter time clean up a lot more enjoyable. Part of that cleaning is to keep your salt spreader maintained by troubleshooting it. When the spreader stops spreading salt evenly, or even at all, you should take some time to find out what is wrong with it instead of just throwing it away.
Common to all salt spreaders, whether it is a small walk behind or a tailgate spreader, is that it will begin to lay salt unevenly. An uneven spread of salt will lead to parts of the driveway, or parking lot, that is still covered with ice. This is a very dangerous situation as you can still start into a slide and not stop where you need to.
Troubleshooting this means looking into the spreader to see if anything is lodged into the gearing. Make sure if you have an electrical spreader that it is unplugged from the power source. This is mostly seen in a tailgate spreader. Use a small screwdriver to pry loose any stuck rocks, or hard pieces of salt.
Gears Are Squeaking
Towards the end of the winter season you will probably hear some squeaking of the gear or internal workings in your spreader. By going through snow, freezing rain, thawing out, and all the salt that runs through the machine in a season, the spreader will begin to run out of lubricant. Some spreaders have grease fittings that can be used for greasing the internal workings. Other spreaders just need some silicone sprayed into the moving areas to keep them from squealing or sticking.
No Salt Being Dropped
You may notice that there isn't any salt being dropped onto your driveway. When this happens one of two things can be happening. The first is that the door that opens to start the spreading is stuck. Check the underneath of the spreader and look at the opening mechanism. Check the spring that moves the door. Clean them out of any build up or replace the parts that are broken. The second thing that can happen in the cable has snapped. If you have owned your salt spreader for awhile, this can easily be the cause.
Clumping vs. Spreading Salt
If you notice that the salt is clumping together instead of spreading on the ground, there is excess moisture, snow, rain, sand in the mixture. You can add a cover to fix this problem, or add new salt to the spreader.
Depending on the size of your salt spreader, the problem of salt clumps can be easy or difficult to fix. Below are some suggestions on how to get your salt spreader working again.
-Larger container or power washer
Step 1-Warm Up Salt
If your salt spreader is small enough, or if you have a big enough building, take your salt spreader indoors. Often times, once the salt has warmed back up it will loosen up and come out. It can take up to two days to thaw if you have a very large salt spreader, though this may not work for your situation.
Step 2-Remove Excess Salt
Depending on the type of salt spreader you have, you can dump or scoop out excess salt. Dump it if it is a hand spreader; scoop it if it is similar to a tailgate spreader.
Step 3-Try To Turn Spinner
Sometimes it can be as simple as turning the spinner to remove the salt that is in the gears. Look to see if there are a few pieces which you can remove or break up by hand.
Step 5-Turn On Salt Spreaders Vibrator
If your salt spread has a vibrator you should turn it on to try to help loosen the salt up. With a hand held salt spreader , try tapping it repeatedly, this may help to loosen up the salt.
Step 6- Try Water
If you have removed the excess salt as step 2 advised, you should not have too much salt left in your salt spreader. Now get some hot water to pour into your salt spreader. If it is a smaller handheld or manual walk behind spreader, your best bet would be to soak it in hot water. If you have a much larger salt spreader, clean it with hot water and a power washer.
Never leave salt in your spreader as it causes unnecessary problems. Always use clean, dry, free flowing salt. Make sure your spinner is set to the right height. If the adjustment is off, it can jam the auger. If you have removed all salt and your spreader still is not working, check other parts to make sure they are not broken or in need of repairs. If you leave salt in your spreader too long, it can corrode the gears and make your spreader unusable.
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